My Dear Friends,
Since the publication of the first issue of the Clarion, I have received many positive comments which is most encouraging and I thank all of those who have responded.
The last few months have witnessed yet more historical events especially the unexpected resignation of Pope Benedict XV1 and the election of his successor HH Pope Francis. We have also seen the appointment of Justin Welby as the new Archbishop of Canterbury.
I wish Pope Benedict a much-deserved happy retirement and thank him for the most valuable contribution he has made during his time in office.
The challenges Pope Francis faces are immense and he will need the collective love and prayers of all those who profess themselves to be Christians. He has to tackle issues that are complex and have the potential to further damage the Church. However we all have to face the fact that in Europe especially, the Church is in decline as the tide of state-sponsored secularism sweeps through the continent.
We have not helped the situation ourselves; division and discord coupled to scandals regarding sexual abuse and exploitation have caused in many quarters deep hurt, resentment and despair. We cannot continue in denial and pretend that everything in the garden is rosy; it is not and we must not deceive ourselves that it is. Neither is the relationship between the different Churches either loving or cordial; it is as if everyone is claiming that “higher” ground.
There are differences that are profound that separate us, but we are all still Christians and should act toward one and other with Charity not with the sword. The fact that in this country the Church of England has abandoned its Apostolic and Catholic heritage, does not give it the right to deny the fact that others are still Continuing to hold that sacred ground. We do not need either their consent or sanction to exist; we exist and are maintained by the will of God.
We are here and we are here to stay, so to my mind it is better to have a constructive dialogue, as Winston Churchill put it, “jaw, jaw, not war, war.” There can only be one victor if the present attitude of the Church of England towards the Continuum persists and that will be devil.
The Continuum both in this country and abroad continues to grow and expand, and it is very encouraging to note the efforts that are now being made to heal the divisions that manifested in the early years of its formation. People of God and goodwill are working together to take the Gospel message of Love and Redemption out to those who seek a fairer and more just society.
In the case of the TAC, we constantly strive to heal divisions and seek unity of purpose with all those who share our Christian heritage. We are a global communion and have global influence and will continue to develop our communion in the spirit of Love and Unity.
Together we can make a decisive difference to the collective well-being of each and every society that we find ourselves in. Our industrial Chaplains are already taking the word of God into many places of work and business; if people no longer see the need to go to Church, then we will have to take the Church to them. We need to win back the hearts and minds of the lost and gather them back into the arms of Christ Jesus.
Dwindling attendances is not a new problem, but divisions between the Churches, and the attempts by politicians to air brush Christianity out of history is compounding the issue A divided house will fall; that especially applies to the Church of Christ Jesus. We need to see a rapid reversal in the attitudes of society in general towards the Christian faith if it is not to disappear in some parts of the world for good in a generation or so from now.
The way of Christ is the way of the Cross: but that is not a way of difficulty chosen for its own sake. The question of difficulty has as little as possible to do with the question of right or wrong, and the Christian duty is to follow right, whether it be easy or hard.
The relationship between the Church of England and the State should be redefined; it holds a position that I feel is no longer tenable in this present day. It has a dwindling presence and representation in the Country and yet holds onto historic vestiges of privilege and power. It has a national platform from which it can present its views. We have as much right to be represented at the highest levels, as do those of other denominations.
Its unilateral actions towards the Ordination of women to the priesthood has caused for very many universal hurt and despair. It has put back possibly for centuries the long cherished aspiration of the Re-Union of Christendom. As Metropolitan Hilarion of Volkolamsk, Chairman of the Department of External Relations of the Russian Orthodox Church put it, in a letter to Justin Welby on his election to the Archbishopric of Canterbury, the ordination of women is one of those innovations “seen by the Orthodox as deviations from the tradition of the Early Church, which increasingly estrange Anglicanism from the Orthodox Church and contribute to a further division of Christendom as a whole”.
So where does that leave us in the here and now. Well for my part at least we should try to work towards healing the divisions that now exist. The challenge offered by the Cross of Christ to worldliness and indifference affects each and every one of us. We have to find a way that allows for the healing of the Church of Christ; we need to reach out and be prepared to make that first move. We cannot turn the clock back; we have to start from where we are today.
Everyone is clear where we stand on the major issues and we will hold fast to our position. We do not seek communion with those bodies who we feel have abandoned the place where we now stand. What I would however like to see is a more friendly and open dialogue emerging between all ChristianChurches and people of good will.
Currently we have a Concordat with Forward in Faith, but as I have said before, we will not be treated as second-class partners. It has to be a meeting and agreement of equals or it cannot work. I have raised this point with them, but have received no response. This is not the Christian way; it is simply no longer acceptable and a resolution will have to be found.
As I said earlier, I feel the election and appointment of both HH Pope Francis and Archbishop Welby affords an opportunity to begin a dialogue for proactive change and a better understanding of the relationship to both, of the Continuum. We are people of peace and goodwill and we extend this to both men.
The world faces grave challenges; the terrible war in Syria, the plight of the refugees, Child poverty and exploitation and the explosion of preventable diseases that costs the life of a child every four seconds, the anguish of the elderly coupled to the misery of the unemployed, the daily struggle of many to keep their heads above water. These are just some of the issues and challenges that we face and as people become more frustrated by the flawed political and banking process that is bringing about such catastrophic failure they will look elsewhere for the answers and solutions.
Our Churches should be full just now, but the voice of Christ is being drowned out by the disunity and controversies that are so damaging His message from the Cross. How He must despair at the mess we find ourselves in today. The Church has to be healed before it can start the universal process of healing the afflicted.
The issue for religion in our day is not to be found in our differences about sacramental doctrine; it is not to be found in our disagreements about the validity of ministries; it concerns faith in the living God. The first duty of the Church is to be sure it knows how to present the truth of God so as to reveal its adequacy to the knowledge and needs of to-day.
That God is Himself both Ultimate Reality and Supreme Value we are well assured; but it is not enough that we should be assured; we must so present Him before men alike in our teaching, in our worship, in the enterprises to which we give our thought, in the choice of subjects on which we dispute with our fellow Christians and in the very manner of our controversies, that others may find the assurance which means so much to us.
Many of you with access to the internet will no doubt have visited the diocesan web site www.thetraditionalanglicanchurchinbritain.org We are all indebted to Michael Wilson who has developed a excellent web presence for us. Already over 9500 people have visited the site. I would also like to thank Joe Hooper for his piece regarding the history of the Continuum and the TACB.
Contributions from Father Andow continue to be very well received and more are included in this second issue. I hope that the Parish directory is now correct, however please do not hesitate to contact the office with any further amendments if required.
Christopher Houghton our treasurer is making excellent and steady progress in resolving the securing of our financial resources, and has re-established links with IAF.
I wish you all a Blessed and Peaceful Easter.
May God Bless You
In Christ Jesus